Recipe of the Week

Rigatoni Bolognese!

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This recipe is just fantastic.  But before I talk about the food I want to talk about this beautiful book:

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Gene Baur, head of Farm Sanctuary, is the face of the animal welfare movement.  There are three Farm Sanctuary locations in the US, and this organization does so much, not only to save hundreds of animals who might otherwise be slaughtered or abandoned, but to help us understand that when we kill animals for food or clothing we are killing someone, not something. You may have seen Gene Baur recently on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and if you haven’t you can see his interview here.  Great stuff.

It takes a lot to get me to buy a hardcover book, but as soon as I saw this one I knew I wanted it on my shelf.  The subtitle says it all:

The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer and Feeling Better Every Day

“Living the Farm Sanctuary Life” makes a case for veganism by educating the reader about all the usual things (animals, environment, health) but through the stunning photographs and stories of animals being rescued from hellacious circumstances (i.e. factory farming) we come to know the individual animals and their personalities.  These stories help us see  that there is no difference between dogs and cats and cows, sheep, turkeys, chickens and pigs.  We arbitrarily create these distinctions so that we can continue eating animals that would very likely be our friends and companions in other circumstances.  As we start to understand this about our culture and ourselves it becomes more difficult to participate in the enslavement and torture of any animals.  This book beautifully illustrates that truth.

This book also contains scores of mouth-watering recipes by some of the best known vegan chefs around.  This recipe uses Gardein meatless crumbles which I had never tried before and I was delighted with how it worked out.  I actually couldn’t find the Gardein brand so I used Beyond Meat crumbles.  This recipe is a classic bolognese full of carrots, celery, onion and garlic.  I couldn’t find the exact recipe from the book online but I did find a similar version here.  Of course, I encourage you to get this book and enjoy all it has to offer, including this wonderful recipe.

As I continue to share recipes and other aspects of my vegan journey, I hope that it is becoming clear that veganism is about abundance, and not deprivation.  Yes, I eat very, very well, but I benefit mostly from knowing that the choices I make every day are consistent with what I believe.   If you love and have a deep respect for all animals, both human and non-human, and you are not vegan, please consider giving it a try.  Living our values is a beautiful and fulfilling experience.

Disconnects and Cynicism

I don’t watch television commercials these days if I can help it.  I imagine you don’t either. But lately I’ve been watching live football games and have had to endure (when I didn’t think to mute the sound) the usual barrage of car, electronics, beer and junk food ads.  And there are two campaigns floating around now that I just can’t get out of my head.  The first of these is from the good folks at Chick-fil-a:

 

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This “Eat More Chikin” cow campaign has been around since 1995.  I’m sure I’ve seen the ads and billboards before, but I doubt I paid much attention.  Basically, the Chick-fil-a fast food chain used ads like the one in the photo above to encourage burger-eating fast food customers to switch to chicken.   But last night we saw an ad that just blew me away.

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This ad uses a live cow, and you can link to a video of the ad here (Click on the ad called “Missing”)

In this spot, the live cow looks imploringly at a woman chowing down on her fast food burger;  after being stared at by the cow she sheepishly looks down at the burger in her hand, connecting the meat on the bun with this very alive and soulful creature in front of her.  Her shame is apparent once she has some awareness.

If this was an ad from PETA I would be most impressed, unfortunately the message is to eat more chicken.  In other words, see your burger as an “individual” (her name is Mabel) and sentient being, but quickly do a disconnect, ignore that blooming awareness and…have a chicken sandwich?  This ad arouses our sense of compassion for animals and at the same time asks us to ignore those feelings.  We are so used to disconnecting from our own humanity when it comes to what we eat that the uncomfortable message of an ad like this barely registers.

And that brings me to another ad that can only resonate with a population that is in a complete and total fog:

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This ad is from Foster Farms, a huge poultry company (factory farming at its worst) on the west coast.  In this campaign the “amazing chickens” are performing classic rock songs.  You can watch one of the spots for yourself here (apparently someone out there thinks this is funny).

After seeing all this “amazingness” one’s natural impulse, I suppose, is to want to run out and eat those chickens right up!  HUH?  The cut from the singing to the bag of frozen nuggets is just too bizarre for words.  So, the message (I guess!) is that amazing animals should be eaten.  Well, come to think of it, those service dogs do look pretty tasty.  This is so cynical and beyond disturbing.

Since going vegan, many people have told me that they don’t like being told what to eat.  Frankly, I think I’m the least of their problems.

 

 

 

 

Book Group Challenge

I don’t personally know any vegans, and I’m taking steps to remedy that.  Nearly all the women I do know, however, belong to or have belonged to a book group.  I belonged to a book group in New Jersey for years.  We read some good stuff, some great stuff and some inane stuff.  But I can say that we never read much important stuff.  No judgment, that’s just how it was. I’m just trying out a Meet-Up group here in Tucson that reads current, interesting trade fiction.  Again, this is fun, just not very important.

And this is why I am challenging all of my book group sisters (and maybe some brothers) to step it up and read this:

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The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle, Ph.D. is one of several books I am required to read before I attend Victoria Moran’s Main Street Vegan Academy in June.  The academy reading list is a compilation of some of the most influential and important books on the subject of veganism, covering topics that include health, animal rights and the environment.  The scholarship and brilliance of authors such as Melanie Joy, T. Colin Campbell and others has been eye-opening and inspiring.

The title of this book is a bit of a misnomer, if only because the word “diet” conjures the old tired quick fix weight loss thing.  The subtitle, “Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony” gets closer to the crux of the subject matter.  Rather than try to sum it up myself, here is the description of the book from Amazon:

Food is our most intimate and telling connection both with the living natural order and with our living cultural heritage. By eating the plants and animals of our earth, we literally incorporate them. It is also through this act of eating that we partake of our culture’s values and paradigms at the most primal levels. It is becoming increasingly obvious, however, that the choices we make about our food are leading to environmental degradation, enormous human health problems, and unimaginable cruelty toward our fellow creatures.

The World Peace Diet suggests how we as a species might move our consciousness forward so that we can be more free, more intelligent, more loving, and happier in the choices we make.

Because this book was a number one Amazon bestseller in 2010, I was interested in reading comments and reviews by the Amazon customers.  Predictably this book resonated powerfully with, well, the “choir”.  Those readers who were interested in the subject matter were already highly conscious about the need for a global change in our diets.  This is my and David’s lens as well, and still the book and its message have stimulated hour after hour of discussion about history, society, philosophy and spirituality. Is this not the stuff of a great book group read?

So what do you think folks?  Are you ready to step it up and tackle some new subject matter?  Are you willing to expose yourselves to disturbing truths about ourselves and our society?  I can’t promise that you will be comfortable.  I can promise that if you can tolerate your discomfort you (and your book group) will have an experience you will never forget.

 

Is There An Activist In Me?

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“Every time you buy an animal-based product you are paying someone to torture animals”.

This is a line from “Speciesism”, the movie we saw last night.  In one brief moment of stunning clarity I knew this to be the absolute truth.

And then I felt like this:

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Because some things, once you know, you can’t  unknow.  And I feel sad and ashamed and sick to my stomach because on some level I  “knew” but didn’t want to “know” about this.  Well no more.

The truth is that in factory farms in our country every single second of every single day animals are tortured, maimed and mistreated in some of the most horrific ways imaginable.  It is an ongoing and never-ending state of affairs. This inhumane treatment is so barbaric it makes me want to scream or cry or do something to make it stop.  The fact is that factory farms supply us with nearly every animal-based product we consume.  So unless you are vegan or have some chickens and cows wandering around your property you are actively contributing to this hellacious problem–just like I did .

Speciesism refers to humans seeing themselves as a superior species to other animal species. And it is what allows for the rationalization and justification of endless torture and inhumane treatment.  I think it’s time to ask ourselves if we are “Speciesists”.

Do you have a dog or cat?  A cherished pet, a companion?  Would you allow your pet to be brutally spayed/neutered with no anesthesia?  Of course not.  Utterly inhumane, unacceptable and barbaric.  But animals in these factories (baby pigs were featured in this movie) are brutally castrated with no anesthesia.  I still can’t get the sound of their screams out of my head.  This is NOT okay with me.  Is it okay with you?

Science is very clear that animals feel pain like we do.  According to the scientists in this movie animals’ pain is likely more acute than ours because they have no ability to cognitively help themselves.  Would it bother you to know that chickens and turkeys are fattened up so fast that their legs can no longer support them?  That their beaks are sliced off so they don’t peck each other to death in too crammed unsanitary cages?  This is the reality in factory egg farms.

I could go on and on but I’m sure (or I fervently hope) that you get the point.

I’m not sure where I go from here in terms of activism (the answer to the question in the title is “yes”) but I know that the most impactful thing I can do NOW is be done with all of it.  Vegan all the way.  I will not knowingly contribute one more cent to the senseless torture of animals.  I don’t need the bacon, the celebratory filet mignon, the gooey pizza or my morning coffee with milk in it.

Maya Angelou often said, “When you know better, you do better”.  I invite you to know better.